May prove enlightening to would-be retirees.

CHANGING LANES

COUPLES REDEFINING RETIREMENT

Retired social psychologist and first-time author Battaglia enters the self-help pantheon with a guide to retirement.

This weighty manual, featuring more than 100 interviews in 12 chapters, employs a sustained automotive metaphor: A qualified “driver” helps readers transition into a fulfilling retirement. Interviews provide illustrative material for each theme the book introduces, significantly enhancing the text with their forthrightness. However, two assumptions somewhat restrict the book’s target audience. The title is intended for couples, married or otherwise, who will read and discuss the book together. It also expects that readers will move into a retirement community. As a result, the author fails to address unmarried or widowed retirees or couples that remain in their pre-retirement homes. Chapters 6 and 7, which deal with relationship issues, become optional for single readers.  Chapter 5, entitled “Bumps in the Road,” is easily the most useful aspect of the book and would be beneficial to any reader. It includes hands-on information about caregiving, such as useful resources and advice for how to deal with numerous unexpected eventualities. The author urges readers to become proficient in CPR, for example. The author approaches all topics with a plethora of information, advice and suggestions, and sometimes this material becomes too simplistic. If target readers have the income to sustain a comfortable retirement, then they have likely acquired a breadth of experience and education that does not require such basic instruction as when to call 911 and what to tell the medical team when it arrives. In this respect, the manual can become cumbersome. Still, many readers may find this guide invaluable in various other aspects.

May prove enlightening to would-be retirees. 

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2008

ISBN: 978-1419695131

Page Count: 384

Publisher: BookSurge

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2012

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A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

THE COMFORT BOOK

Bestselling author Haig offers a book’s worth of apothegms to serve as guides to issues ranging from disquietude to self-acceptance.

Like many collections of this sort—terse snippets of advice, from the everyday to the cosmic—some parts will hit home with surprising insight, some will feel like old hat, and others will come across as disposable or incomprehensible. Years ago, Haig experienced an extended period of suicidal depression, so he comes at many of these topics—pain, hope, self-worth, contentment—from a hard-won perspective. This makes some of the material worthy of a second look, even when it feels runic or contrary to experience. The author’s words are instigations, hopeful first steps toward illumination. Most chapters are only a few sentences long, the longest running for three pages. Much is left unsaid and left up to readers to dissect. On being lost, Haig recounts an episode with his father when they got turned around in a forest in France. His father said to him, “If we keep going in a straight line we’ll get out of here.” He was correct, a bit of wisdom Haig turned to during his depression when he focused on moving forward: “It is important to remember the bottom of the valley never has the clearest view. And that sometimes all you need to do in order to rise up again is to keep moving forward.” Many aphorisms sound right, if hardly groundbreaking—e.g., a quick route to happiness is making someone else happy; “No is a good word. It keeps you sane. In an age of overload, no is really yes. It is yes to having space you need to live”; “External events are neutral. They only gain positive or negative value the moment they enter our mind.” Haig’s fans may enjoy this one, but others should take a pass.

A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-14-313666-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Penguin Life

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

THE LAWS OF HUMAN NATURE

A follow-on to the author’s garbled but popular 48 Laws of Power, promising that readers will learn how to win friends and influence people, to say nothing of outfoxing all those “toxic types” out in the world.

Greene (Mastery, 2012, etc.) begins with a big sell, averring that his book “is designed to immerse you in all aspects of human behavior and illuminate its root causes.” To gauge by this fat compendium, human behavior is mostly rotten, a presumption that fits with the author’s neo-Machiavellian program of self-validation and eventual strategic supremacy. The author works to formula: First, state a “law,” such as “confront your dark side” or “know your limits,” the latter of which seems pale compared to the Delphic oracle’s “nothing in excess.” Next, elaborate on that law with what might seem to be as plain as day: “Losing contact with reality, we make irrational decisions. That is why our success often does not last.” One imagines there might be other reasons for the evanescence of glory, but there you go. Finally, spin out a long tutelary yarn, seemingly the longer the better, to shore up the truism—in this case, the cometary rise and fall of one-time Disney CEO Michael Eisner, with the warning, “his fate could easily be yours, albeit most likely on a smaller scale,” which ranks right up there with the fortuneteller’s “I sense that someone you know has died" in orders of probability. It’s enough to inspire a new law: Beware of those who spend too much time telling you what you already know, even when it’s dressed up in fresh-sounding terms. “Continually mix the visceral with the analytic” is the language of a consultant’s report, more important-sounding than “go with your gut but use your head, too.”

The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-42814-5

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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